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Interview with Chasing Ice Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski

By Maria Esteves – December 7, 2012

As glaciers around the world are disappearing and sea level rising 60 percent faster than projected, the timing is right for a documentary on climate change. Jeff Orlowski’s CHASING ICE is truly one of the year’s best film! Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) team member Orlowski documented award winning American photographer James Balog 25 camera network project capturing the erosion of glaciers in Iceland, Greenland and Alaska from 2007 to 2012 in sub zero temperatures (minus 40 degrees) with 150 mph winds.

The New York Premiere of CHASING ICE was held at Cinema Village, Friday, November 9, 2012. The film is winner of 23 awards including best cinematography, best documentary, and audience awards. Funding  to facilitate educational screening is in progress. I had the honor and privilege of interviewing producer/director Jeff Orlowski (JO) at Lincoln Center, New York, Friday, November 16th.

ME: How did you meet award-winning American photographer James Balog?

JO: I met James Balog through a mutual friend named Michael between 2005 and 2006. Michael and I were aware of his upcoming project the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS). James wanted to install time-lapse cameras to capture climate change in Iceland. James is a phenomenal photographer and I wanted the opportunity to assist in the project. Michael convinced James to have me become part of the team. In March 2007, the project began in Iceland. As team member, I worked diligently then James invited me to Greenland and to Alaska.

ME: What inspired the making of the documentary CHASING ICE

JO: The project was historic and revolutionary. No one has ever done this before. Therefore, we decided to document on video like a travel log capturing our experiences from cameras not working to the epic adventure. I kept following James Balog and shooting his story. Our intention was not to make a film. We thought James would use the material for web videos. About a year-and-a-half into the project, between time-lapsed cameras and video footage, I realized we had a powerful story on film. In the end of 2008, we began making the moving.

ME: What were the challenges in making the film?

JO: Many of the challenges such as the raw weather condition were showcased in the film. However, the greatest challenge was fund raising. The support came from people who were passionate about the subject mainly friends and family members. That was the only way we were able to make this happen.

ME: What has been the audience reaction at the New York Premiere of CHASING ICE?

JO: The audience response has been humbly phenomenal ever since Sundance Film Festival in January 2012. We did not expect it to resonate as much as it has. We are delighted to share the film with people on climate change.

ME: What films have you directed?

JO: I have directed short films and Chasing Ice is my first feature film.

ME: What awards have you been honored?

JO: Chasing Ice is winner of 23 awards including best cinematography, best documentary, and audience awards. We are proud the film is recognized in many different categories.

ME: Briefly describe your film production company Exposure.

JO: Exposure is dedicated to telling socially relevant stories. We want to provide content that educates and inform but really, that entertains as well. I look at film as a very powerful media to convey information and emotion of a story. We want to keep this in film to share compelling stories.

ME: Any new projects soon to follow?

JO: We have a bunch of projects in the pipeline. The team is working on a documentary and a narrative film. Currently, we are dedicating and supporting our time to Chasing Ice.

Thank you, Jeff.

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